During World War II, the Luftwaffe intelligence made several air recognition over Lithuania – this is how the Lithuanian landscape of the mid-twentieth century was recorded to a good degree of details.
These reconnaissance flights by the Luftwaffe were made all over Europe: at the end of the war, the Allies discovered more than 1.2 million aerial photographs, which are now preserved in the US National Archives, the NARA, with a few collections preserved at Keele university in the United Kingdom. During the Cold war USA intelligence analysed the photographs to get information on East and Central Europe, which was under influence of the USSR, so the photographs were classified – until the end of the 20th Century: a digital copy is now preserved by the Lithuanian Central State Archives, and they are available to society.
A new study conducted by the Lithuanian Central State Archives, in partnership with Klaipeda University, has analysed approximately 17500 digital copies of GX photos, to connect them to a contemporary map. The result of project is here. The map is constantly updated with new photos.
Urban areas, natural monuments, cultural heritage objects and other important information are captured in these photos. Photos, taken during World War II helps to determine how these objects looked like more than 70 years ago. The photographs are a fundamental tool to investigate the development of cities and towns, help identify extinct cemeteries and destroyed buildings.
A full report of the project (in English) is available here